Devotional: The Fundamentals of Basketball and Life
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)
As residents of North Carolina for the last three decades, we’ve enjoyed some of the best college basketball in the country. Whether you wear the Carolina blue of the UNC Tar Heels or the darker blue of their rivals, the Duke Blue Devils, in any given year the odds are that one of these teams will be in the Final Four. Since 1990 a North Carolina school has played in the men’s NCAA championship game thirteen out of twenty-eight seasons, winning the whole thing nine times!
Great basketball teams with winning traditions start with a coach who begins each year by reviewing the basics of the game. These include shooting, passing, rebounding, and defense. Each of these specialties has its own set of skills whose mastery is required for success. Today, however, I want to look at three fundamentals of shooting and how they can be applied in the life of a Christ-follower.
Yes, game highlights on TV often focus on a player hitting a flashy fade-away shot or a runner in the lane, but a much higher-percentage shot requires that you square your body to the basket. Shooting a basketball accurately starts with setting your feet properly—so that all ten toes point toward the basket—and aligning your hip, shoulder, and elbow so that the ball flies straight and true when you release it.
In our spiritual walk, we need to be just as deliberate, aligning our hearts and mind with God’s will and approaching the throne of grace with confidence. Don’t be simultaneously running away from God (the fade-away) or rushing too fast towards Him without a healthy fear of His holiness (the runner). Think fundamentals.
Focus on the Goal
After squaring your body with the basket, you need to focus your eyes on the goal. Where do you want the ball to go? Where are you aiming? Some say to look at the front of the rim; others say the back. Either way, you need to be focused on the objective in order to put the ball through the hoop.
As Christ-followers, we need to do the same. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith. Paul says that as we behold the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into His image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, the more you focus on Jesus, the more you will become like Him, which is the goal.
So now you’ve squared up your body and your focus is on the goal. There is one more important step in shooting a basketball: follow-through. As you take the shot, let your arm continue its motion as far as possible, even after the ball has left your hand. A good follow-through will help you get the ball traveling in the direction you intended. If you snap your arm back too quickly, your odds of making the shot are greatly diminished.
Similarly, after we’ve approached the throne of grace (square up) and fixed our eyes on Jesus (focus on the goal), we need to follow through and continue walking by faith daily. Don’t be like the seed planted in thorny soil (Luke 8:14) and start your walk with a passion only to quickly fall away after being choked by the lusts, worries, and temptations of this world. Persevere, stay disciplined, remain humble, and walk in grace.
Father in heaven, in the game of life, you are the one I desire. Help me to concentrate on the fundamentals and not get carried away with anything too fancy or complex. I simply want to approach your throne of grace with confidence, fix my eyes on Jesus, and follow through on my commitment to you. Help me to love you, give all glory to you, and know you and make you known. I want to persevere for your name’s sake, so thanks for cheering me on. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
If you enjoyed this devotional by Davis Carman, enjoy reading his devotional entitled Hypocrisy Versus Integrity.
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! Davis’s four books include: Good Morning, God, based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path, an ABC book based on Psalm 119, In the Beginning, based on the Creation account in Genesis, and Psalms to Know Early.